PNG Police Minister targets illegal arms build-up

4:42 pm on 12 October 2017

Papua New Guinea's police minister says the government is aiming to strengthen laws to prevent the build-up of illegal weapons.

Papua New Guinea police.

Papua New Guinea police. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Jelta Wong has sounded a warning for instigators of deadly election-related violence in two Highlands provinces.

He said hundreds of extra police officers had been deployed to Southern Highlands and Enga to contain lingering unrest.

The capital of Southern, Mendi, went into lockdown two weeks ago after the death of two policemen.

Mr Wong placed blame on disgruntled leaders and election candidates who compelled their supporters to take up arms and create havoc.

"I've lost four policemen in this last election, and that's four too many," he said.

"That's why I've put a lot of emphasis on gun control, the illegal weapons coming in to the country, and we're trying to change laws that will actually hurt... people will be afraid to do these things once the law is done. At the moment our laws are pretty lax."

Meanwhile, former PNG military commander Jerry Singirok said the solution to the country's gun problem was to empower the community.

He said the first stop had to be the United Nations-sanctioned Gun Report he helped compile 12 years ago.

The report, which included dozens of recommendations, has never been tabled in parliament.

Mr Singirok said all the factors that applied in 2005 were still relevant.

He also argued communities would embrace mobilisation programmes to remove weapons because they were sick of guns and the trouble they brought.

"Many communities are fed up with guns but they just need to be empowered," he said.

"From there you start to pacify areas that are willing to address the issue."